Saturday, August 8, 2009

Junta wants KIA to disarm honourably: Northern commander

by KNG

In a giveaway, the northern regional commander of Burma's ruling junta, Maj-Gen Soe Win told a high ranking army officer of the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) last week that "We (the ruling junta) are just trying to convince the KIO to disarm themselves honourably", said KIO sources.

A KIO officer in the Laiza headquarters on the Sino-Burma border in Kachin State told KNG today, that Soe Win said this to Col. Wahkyawng Hkawng Lum, a staff member in the office of military headquarters of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the armed-wing of the KIO in Laiza. The conversation took place, while the commander was being escorted back home in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State from Laiza after the meeting with KIO officials on July 31.

The ruling junta's Northern Regional commander Maj-Gen Soe Win (left) and KIO chairman Lanyaw Zawng Hra
The northern commander’s statement comes at a time when there is palpable tension between the KIO and the ruling junta over the demands made to each other. The junta has demanded transformation of the KIA to a battalion of the Border Guard Force (BGF) in April, whereas the KIO has demanded that the junta allow the transformation of the KIA to a brigade-level Kachin Regional Guard Force (KRGF) and KIO's direct participation in the new Kachin State government in the aftermath of next year’s general elections. The KIO’s demands were made in July.

As of now the two sides have not responded categorically to each others demands.

Kachin Baptist pastor Rev. Dr. Lahtaw Saboi Jum, former General Secretary of the Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) and also a peace mediator, yet again, met the junta's Lt-Gen Ye Myint head of Military Affairs Security (MAS) in Naypyitaw last week to resolve the problems between the two sides.

Lt-Gen Ye Myint sent a message for the KIO through the peace mediator Rev. Saboi Jum, that the junta would like to uphold the ceasefire agreement with the KIO. He also offered to initiate a dialogue to solve the problems between them, said KIO officers in Laiza.

Meanwhile, on the frontlines in Kachin State, KIA soldiers and Burmese Army soldiers are secretly making preparations for a possible civil war, said sources in the frontline.

According to a source close to the junta, the regime will start the war first against the KIO and not the United Wa State Army (UWSA).

KIO sources said, the KIO and the three ceasefire groups in Shan state--- UWSA, Kokang ceasefire group and Mongla-based National Democratic Alliance Army-Eastern Shan State (NDAA-ESS) have already agreed to fight the junta together if a war becomes inevitable.

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